There’s no doubt that winning the Scottish League Cup this season will be a massive aim of manager Neil Lennon.
It’s a trophy that so far has eluded him as boss in the Scottish game, having failed to win it during his first spell at Celtic and at Hibernian.
Having successfully come through a extra-time battle against Dunfermline Athletic in the last round, Partick Thistle await us in the quarter-finals of the competition this Wednesday night.
Although mass rotation in the team is unlikely, the game does present an opportunity for Lennon to tactically rest some of his high energy performers, who have competent back-up, to keep them fresh for stiffer tests on the horizon.
The manager’s squad management is crucial over the coming period – so which three players are the best candidates for spending a game out of the side?
Having apparently picked up an injury in that match on Thursday night, Bolingoli was something of a surprise inclusion in Lennon’s team to face Kilmarnock earlier today.
He isn’t showing much sign of fatigue, but it has to be noted that his greatest attributes are his pace and ability to get up and down the pitch for a full 90 minutes. If tiredness creeps into his game it could prove costly.
It just so happens that we’re all waiting on a Greg Taylor debut too. The Scotland international has been kept out of the team by the Belgian’s good form. However, he now deserves an opportunity to impress in a big cup match.
Bolingoli should be kept fresh for two big matches away to Hibernian and most importantly Cluj. The defender will be out to prove a point against the Romanians.
The Celtic captain has played a lot of football this season. In fact, only Callum McGregor has more minutes than him in a Hoops shirt so far in 2019/20.
McGregor is a candidate for rest too, but given Brown is 34 years of age his need is more urgent.
Lennon likely wouldn’t want to take both out of his team at the same time if possible, since they are both so important to the starting eleven in terms of ability and personality.
Olivier Ntcham is deserving of more minutes too and benching or simply not selecting Brown would allow the Frenchman to come into the team without shifting others outside of their preferred positions.
With a mid-week to weekend schedule all the way into December, save for international breaks, Brown should be kept pristine for European fixtures.
It’s in those games his work ethic and ball winning ability is most tested, not against Partick Thistle.
Like Brown and McGregor, Christie has played over 1200 minutes of football already this season. He has been remarkably consistent and already has ten goals to his name.
Whether played in a number ten role or in a wider attacking midfield position, he gives his all in every match. He’s emerged as a key player and one who Lennon would not drop lightly.
However, his position is also one in which depth is available.
Australian wizard Tom Rogic is still building his fitness since returning from injury recently and needs more minutes if he’s to get up to peak fitness.
That, coupled with the opportunity to keep Christie fresh, should convince the manager to make a switch for the upcoming Glasgow derby against Thistle.